Afghan folk singer shot dead in his village

Villagers and family members have accused Taliban militants of killing the well-known singer

A well-known Afghan folk singer was shot dead at his home in the restive mountain province north of Kabul, former government officials and witnesses said.

Fawad Andarabi was killed on Friday in the village of Kishaan, in the northern Baghlan province, about 100 kilometres from Kabul.

Former interior minister Masoud Andarabi and villagers blamed Taliban members for the killing of Andarabi.

The National could not verify the accusation and the group’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid was unavailable for comment although he told The Associated Press they would investigate the matter.

The Andarabi Valley had seen upheaval since the Taliban takeover, with some districts in the area coming under the control of militia fighters opposed to the Taliban rule.

Mr Andarabi, who was dismissed by former president Ashraf Ghani in March, condemned Taliban's continued brutality, accusing the group of killing a singer "who simply was bringing joy to this valley and its people".

The singer's son told The Associated Press that a Taliban fighter was behind the shooting. But he didn't give further details.

Jawad Andarabi, the singer's son, said that the Taliban have visited the performer before and even drank tea with him but that something happened during Friday's meeting. He demanded accountability for the killing.

Andarabi played the ghichak, a bowed lute, and sang traditional songs about his birthplace, his people and Afghanistan.

A video online showed him at one performance, sitting on a rug with the mountains of home surrounding him as he sang.

“There is no country in the world like my homeland, a proud nation,” he sang. “Our beautiful valley, our great-grandparents’ homeland.”

United Nations special rapporteur on cultural rights Karima Bennoune expressed her “grave concern” over Andarabi’s killing.

“We call on governments to demand the Taliban respect the human rights of artists,” she said on Twitter.

Taliban banned most music when it was in control of most of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Since taking control of Kabul and much of the country this month it has banned music in public.

Its leadership has promised a moderate rule, but western officials have said they will be judged on action, not promises.

There are growing concerns among human rights activists that the Taliban would end hard-won freedoms and rights gained over the past 20 years as they return to rule the country.

Updated: August 29th 2021, 2:08 PM